11/02/2006

Planning Sprinkler Retrofits

To avoid unpleasant surprises, get answers to the following questions before embarking on a sprinkler retrofit

 

Cost-Recovery Myths and Opportunities

A common misconception is that installing a code-compliant fire-protection system will reduce building insurance premiums by an amount large enough to recover the initial investment. But, insurance premiums vary from year to year and from market to market. Underwriters are not predictable or consistent in the discounts they offer, and the discounts are not generally significant enough to offset even a portion of the overall system cost. The good news is that more and more legislation is being championed to provide tax savings (in the form of accelerated depreciation) to building owners who install fire-protection systems. These savings offer an attractive way to recover an owner’s initial investment.

More and more local governments are setting deadlines for building owners to retrofit older buildings with sprinkler systems. Renovating existing structures to install a fire-protection system requires considerable planning - there is no such thing as a typical retrofit. To avoid unpleasant surprises, a building owner should get answers to the following questions before embarking on a retrofit:

Does the existing water service have the size, capacity, and pressure to support a sprinkler system? If the existing service falls short in any of these criteria, new water service may be required. New service may entail utility tap-in fees, backflow protection, excavation, patching, or restoring disturbed grounds and structures, plus the cost of the piping. It may be appropriate to explore the use of water-storage tanks, which can be troublesome to locate on developed sites. A fire pump may be required. The pump alone may cost upwards of $40,000, not counting installation and connection. A dedicated rated room or stand-alone enclosure will be needed to house the fire pump.

Will the protected facility have to comply with code requirements that are more stringent than those in effect when it was built? Code may require a standpipe system if a structure exceeds building height and area limits that were adopted after the structure was built. Costs will be roughly $5,000 per floor per standpipe required. Where there are standpipes, a fire pump is usually required to supply them.

What will a sprinkler system cost? Experience in renovation work indicates that prices can range from $1.50 to $5.75 per square foot of protected area. Larger structures benefit from an economy of scale, while smaller ones entail higher per-square-foot costs. Many variables contribute to sprinkler-system cost:

  • Whether the existing building structure can support the physical weight of the system.
  • Whether there is adequate space within the structure to permit efficient pipe routing.
  • Whether the use of exposed piping is permitted.
  • Whether work will have to be scheduled to accommodate building occupants.
  • Whether tenants will have to be temporarily relocated.
  • Whether the local code permits the use of CPVC pipe.
  • Whether installing a sprinkler system will require an upgrade of the existing fire-alarm system or installation of an entirely new fire-alarm system.

What will project planning and management cost? Consulting services consisting of feasibility studies (if required), budgetary-cost estimates, plan submittals for local permitting, construction document design, phasing documents, and follow-up construction administration will not be free. All of the trades involved in installing a system must be coordinated to minimize disruption and delay.

Douglas G. Ellsworth is an associate at architecture and engineering firm Burt Hill (www.burthill.com). He can be reached at (doug.ellsworth@burthill.com).

 


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Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com

 


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

Replace core drilling with Connectrac In-Carpet and On-Floor Wireways, the proven connectivity solution in open interior spaces of all kinds. These elegant low-profile wireways are great for AV / telecom connectivity wherever it’s needed.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.


 
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